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Steelworkers gather in Westminster: We cannot let the industry die

Steelworkers gather in Westminster to lobby MPs to prevent further job losses in the UK steel industry Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Steelworkers have called for urgent Government action after a wave of job losses across the country.

Workers have put pressure on MPs in Parliament before a debate on the steel industry which will see Labour push for immediate measures to prevent further job cuts.

Thousands of steelworkers have lost their jobs in the last month following the closure of SSI UK and Tata Steel plants in Redcar, Scunthorpe and Scotland.

Cheap imports and high energy and emissions costs have been blamed for the closures, with further job losses being threatened at Caparo Industries, which has gone into administration. The steel processing firm has 20 sites across the UK.

Steelworkers wearing t-shirts with the slogan 'Save Our Steel' gathered in Westminster to draw ministers' attention to the urgency of the crisis.

Members of the Unite union and steel workers from the Tata site in Corby gather in Parliament Square Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Unions organised the gathering amid fears of further job cuts. Kevin Cook, who has worked at the SSI steelworks in Redcar for 39 years, said workers were still "shell shocked" by the closure of the plant, with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

He revealed that workers with less than three years' service have only received two weeks' redundancy pay, which is capped at £475 per week.

1,200 job losses have been announced at the Tata Steel plant in Scunthorpe Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire/Press Association Images

John Laurens has worked as a steelworker at the Scunthorpe plant for 35 years. He said he believed there was still a chance the 1,200 jobs under threat at the Tata site in Lincolnshire could be saved.

We just cannot let the steel industry die. This country wasn't built on banking, it was built on manufacturing.

The steelworks at Scunthorpe is the lifeblood of the town.

Losing so many jobs would have a massive impact on the area. We need action from the Government now, not warm words.

– John Laurens

Jason Wyatt, an electrician at the giant Port Talbot works in South Wales, said there was apprehension in the area because of the state of the industry.

There is a lot the Government can do immediately in terms of business rates and energy prices, which are the biggest hitters for our industry.

We are worried about what the business will do in terms of any short-term measures such as lay-offs.

– Jason Wyatt

Andy Trigg, who works at Tata's steel tubes plant at Corby in Northamptonshire, said he was lobbying MPs to support workers losing or fearing for their jobs.

Steel is a cyclical industry, with peaks and troughs. It is in a trough at the moment but hopefully it will pick up - but we need Government support.

Energy and carbon costs are really hurting the industry, as well as cheap imports. Once the industry is lost, it is lost forever.

– Andy Trigg
Steel workers unfurl a banner in Parliament Square, London, during a protest calling on the government to help save the UK steel industry. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Tony Pearson, who works on a separate part of the Redcar site to the SSI business, said the closure had created huge problems for the area.

People are feeling very down at the moment and we need the Government to realise this is a foundation industry which should be saved.

– Tony Pearson

The Business Secretary said he will tell officials in Brussels that urgent action across Europe is needed to tackle the crisis in the steel industry. Mr Javid is calling for an emergency European Union meeting to discuss the state of the industry and unfair trade practices.

The Business Secretary Sajid Javid is calling for an emergency EU meeting to discuss the state of the steelmaking industry Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

I want to see steel top of the EU agenda. We cannot stand by while the steel industry across Europe, not just in the UK, faces such unprecedented challenges.

There are no straightforward solutions to the complex global challenges but the UK Government wants to work with the EU and our European partners to do all we can to support our steel industry.

– Sajid Javid, Business Secretary

The Secretary of State is shameless in addressing the crisis in the UK steel industry with spin and PR stunts. The latest stunt of a trip to Brussels follows the Steel Summit talking shop. The complete lack of any action on dumping and energy prices, which can only be tackled by Government, has given rise to a wave of fear that even more jobs will be lost.

– David Hulse, national officer of the GMB union

This Tory Government has sat on its hands whilst the industry has descended into crisis. They abandoned the people of Redcar, and it has taken thousands of job losses before they have even talked about action.

The Business Secretary has shown no leadership in Europe and is only visiting after the Opposition has dragged him to this position.

We have had weeks of talking, now we need action.

– Angela Eagle, Shadow business secretary

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